Saturday, 13 February 2016

Helen Muspratt Photographer



For more on Helen Muspratt,  see Joanna Moorhead in Independent  here [though the headline a bit misleading I think]

Dorothy Hodgkin 1937 / Estate of Helen Muspratt 

Hilda & Mary Spencer Watson 1932
Estate of Helen Muspratt
 Born into an army family in India in 1907, Helen Muspratt was a lifelong communist, a member of the Cambridge intellectual milieu of the 1930s, and a working mother at a time when such a role was unusual for women of her class. She was also a pioneering photographer, creating an extraordinary body of work in many different styles and genres. 

Her experimental photography using techniques such as solarisation and multiple exposure was contemporary with the innovations of Man Ray and Lee Miller. 

Her political convictions led to important documentary records of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and  desperate unemployment in the Welsh Valleys.  


Soviet Farmworkers 1937 / Estate of Helen Muspratt


Unemployed miners scavenging coal / Estate of Helen Muspratt



Paul Nash  / Helen Muspratt
Tess Mayor / Helen Muspratt
In partnership with Lettice Ramsey she made portraits of many notable figures in the fields of science and culture, becoming one of the most eminent portrait photographers of the twentieth century.  

Critical to her work was a preoccupation with the face – her attention to the ‘shape and angle’ of the head lies at the root of all her pictures.


Helen's daughter Jessica Sutcliffe is an architect specialising in historic buildings. Following Helen’s death in 2001, she became increasingly aware of her mother’s importance in the history of twentieth century photography.  She says: 'Both Helen’s work and the story of her life are of considerable interest and many have suggested that a book should be produced combining the two. As her daughter and owner of the archive, it has fallen to me to carry out this task.’  

Face: Shape and Angle,  the handsome book from Manchester University Press, reveals the full range of Helen Muspratt's aesthetic and historic achievements, containing hundreds of striking and compassionate pictures, and a revealing biography, exploring her life, work, politics and family life.

 Face: Shape and Angle  details here



In addition to the book, there is an exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester - the first of many displaying Helen Muspratt's work.  
Pallant House exhibition  details here

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